Who are your brother and sister?

September 23, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen.
(1 John 4:20 (NIV))

I have often wondered how Jesus would answer someone if they had asked Him who is their brother or sister?

Perhaps Jesus would give an answer similar to the one He gave when He was asked what was the greatest commandment.

“The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”
(Mark 12:29-31 (NIV))

Would He have answered with a parable similar to the Good Samaritan as He did when He was asked who is my neighbor? Jesus turned it around on the person who asked by telling the parable and then asked who he thought was a neighbor.

The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.”
Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”
(Luke 10:37 (NIV))

Perhaps he would have answered similarly to when He was told His mother and brothers were outside and wanted to speak with Him.

He replied to him, “Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?” Pointing to his disciples, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers. For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.”
(Matthew 12:48-50 (NIV))

Are we seeing a distinction between a neighbor and a brother? Are we being told to show love and mercy to our neighbors and to love those who do the will of His Father? Is there a difference between showing love and mercy to a neighbor and actually loving someone who is a member of the Body? This is a topic that will require much more than just a few paragraphs to bring to light. Suffice it to say that if someone calls upon Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior, they are a brother or a sister to anyone and everyone who also makes that same profession. We are to love them. We are also called to show love and mercy to those who are not part of the Body of Christ. If you stop to think about this last statement, perhaps the very love and mercy that you show will be what the Lord uses to reach their heart!

To play it safe, it sounds like we should show the love of Jesus to everyone. How can we claim to love God and still have hate in our hearts for anyone whom God loves?

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
(John 3:16 (NIV))

Who are your brother and sister?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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How can we do any less than love?

September 18, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

But I tell you who hear me: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. If someone strikes you on one cheek, turn to him the other also. If someone takes your cloak, do not stop him from taking your tunic. Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. Do to others as you would have them do to you.
(Luke 6:27-31 (NIV))

At what point do you think that God allows us to stop loving our enemies?

And, yes, this could very easily be a trick question.

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
(John 3:16 (NIV))

With that in mind, every single person is a loved child of God.

Does God stop loving? Does Jesus stop loving?

And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.
(1 Corinthians 13:13 (NIV))

Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.
(1 Peter 4:8 NIV))

Love is a powerful force. It can turn an enemy into a brother. It can turn a foe into a friend. It can restore relationships that seem to be lost. It can bring healing and wholeness.

Do you remember the words that Jesus spoke on the cross?

Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” And they divided up his clothes by casting lots.
(Luke 23:34 (NIV))

If Jesus can pronounce forgiveness and love after suffering what He suffered on the cross, how can we do any less?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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How is your mind governed?

September 9, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace. The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so.
(Romans 8:6-7 (NIV))

In case you were thinking this, no, it is not possible to be governed by both!

No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.
(Matthew 6:24 (NIV))

Before I am accused of mixing scripture passages and meanings, it is important to understand that the love of money serves the flesh. It is the ultimate worldly and fleshly control on the human mind. It is the embodiment of lust, power and ego. When your mind is governed by the things of this physical world, it seeks carnal satisfaction. It seeks sin!

For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
(Romans 6:23 (NIV))

We must strive to overcome human nature and focus on Jesus. We must follow the leading of the Holy Spirit. When we falter, and we will, we must recognize our failures, repent and return to the Lord. We must desire to possess true peace as only it can be found in the Lord.

And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
(Philippians 4:7 (ESV))

We have all seen what happens in this world when government is bad. People suffer. We have also seen what happens in this world when government tries to do what is righteous in the eyes of God. We have our own personal election each and every moment of every day. We can choose to be governed by the flesh and suffer the consequences, or we can choose to be governed by the Spirit and find peace.

How is your mind governed?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Is this continually on your lips?

September 8, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

But may all who seek you rejoice and be glad in you; may those who love your salvation say continually, “Great is the Lord!”
(Psalms 40:16 (NIV))

Do you proclaim the greatness of the Lord at all times?

Think about that question with respect to these situations. Are you able to proclaim the greatness of the Lord when you’ve just lost your job? What about when you have no money left and you still need food? What about when someone whom you love passes away? Is it easy to still proclaim the greatness of the Lord in these situations?

I realize that these are extreme examples and that everyone has times that they can think of when it was difficult to proclaim the greatness of the Lord. Have there been specific times in your life when you found this difficult to do? Did you ever get to the point where you could proclaim this again? Perhaps you are in a situation at this moment in time that you simply feel that the Lord has forsaken you. You are not alone!

Even David had these times in his life where he felt that the Lord had forgotten him or forsaken him. Let’s put this in perspective. David was the young man who faced and killed Goliath. David was the young man whom God anointed to be king over all of Israel. David was the man who defeated all the enemies of Israel. David purchased the land for the location of the Temple. David was called a man after God’s own heart. Still, in all the ways that the Lord blessed him, there were times when David felt that God had turned His back on him. We can read this in the Psalms that he wrote. He goes from praising God to asking why He has been forsaken. In all instances, David quickly comes full circles and praised God in the midst of the troubles because he has a history with the Lord. He knows that the Lord will do once again what He has done in the past. He knows that the Lord will not leave him in the situations that he found himself in.

In essence, David knew to praise the Lord for what He has done. He also knew to turn to the Lord and seek His blessing when the enemy was closing in, even when it appeared that the enemy was winning. David knew that he needed to lift up praise to the Lord for the greatness of the next thing that the Lord would do. It could easily be said that David’s praise could be broken down into two categories.

David praised the Lord for what He has done.

David praised the Lord for what He would do.

Do we have the faith to praise the Lord in this manner? Are we able to say “Great is the Lord” even when we don’t see what He is doing?

We must rejoice at all times for Great is the Lord!

Is this continually on your lips?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Are you a member of God’s household?

August 31, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household,
(Ephesians 2:19 (NIV))

Think about this passage for a moment.

When darkness falls and the doors to the home are locked, who remains inside the home when the homeowner turns out the lights? Who relies on the head of the household to provide security and rest?

I don’t know about you, but I have never seen someone who had the lives of family and friends under the safety of their roof leave doors unlocked so that the enemy could attack. By professing a faith in Jesus, we have been welcomed into the household of God. We have been given not only grace and mercy. We have been given a home that is far more secure than anything we can ever imagine. This world is not our home! We must never forget that we are only passing through on our way to a place that the Lord has prepared for us. We are to be citizens of heaven and we are to be called children of God. Human nature is sinful, but most of us love and provide for our children. How much more will the Lord do for us?

If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!
(Matthew 7:11 (NIV))

Have you ever stopped to truly think about what actually happens when we accept Jesus as our personal Lord and Savior? I realize that there is so much more, but the symbolism of these are represented very eloquently in Ephesians 2:19.

We trade being foreigners and strangers with God to being His children.

We trade being children of sin to being foreigners and strangers to the sinful world.

With all that is happening in this world, we must remember to not be a stranger to God. Are you a member of God’s household?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Do you have the faith to do something?

August 27, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

      What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him? Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to him, “Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.
      But someone will say, “You have faith; I have deeds.”
      Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by what I do. You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that–and shudder.
(James 2:14-19 (NIV))

We are told that we will be known by our fruit. What fruit do you bear?

We are told that we cannot earn our way to salvation through works. Does this mean that we do not do good works?

We are told that actions speak louder than words. Are you actions louder than a whisper?

Too many members of the Body of Christ cling to the notion that because we are saved by grace and that we are freed from the law of sin and death, we are also free from doing good works. Too many believe that since good works do not get you into heaven, they are not needed. Nothing could be farther from the truth!

Works without faith will not save us. Faith saves us. However, faith without works is not a true manifestation of faith. When we are fully aware of the grace that we have been given, we should fully desire to share that love and grace with all that we see. We should not simply sit upon our laurels and falsely profess that we have our salvation and the salvation of everyone else is not our responsibility.

He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned. And these signs will accompany those who believe: In my name they will drive out demons; they will speak in new tongues; they will pick up snakes with their hands; and when they drink deadly poison, it will not hurt them at all; they will place their hands on sick people, and they will get well.”
(Mark 16:15-18 (NIV))

Jesus gave us the responsibility.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer once said, “Action springs not from thought, but from a readiness for responsibility.”

Are you ready to accept the responsibility that Jesus has given us?

Do you have the faith to do something?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Do you love this world?

August 26, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them.
(1 John 2:15 (NIV))

The way that things are at this moment in time, I am pretty sure that most people will easily be able to say that they do not love the world.

What was your outlook last year? Did you love the world then? If everything suddenly became exactly as you long for, what would your outlook be? Would you love the world then?

Even in the very best of times, we still live in a sinful, fallen world. No matter what you may like in this world, it will fade, rust or die. Even the very best of friends will betray you. Thankfully, we are promised an eternal home that is so much better. It is so far beyond our ability to understand how good it will be. What we have in this world is as we are, filthy rags. We can trade our filthy rags for God’s perfection. We should desire to cast off the rags and leave them behind, for what we will receive is eternal grace, beauty, and peace in God’s presence.

Think about that for a moment.

We will no longer be confronted with wars, hatred, sin, riots, hunger, sickness and death. I realize that in the midst of all of this, we do have fleeting glimpses of beauty, love and peace, but they soon vanish. Why do we claim to love a place that seems to cause so much pain, when we can claim an eternal home free from all pain and suffering? All that we have to do is look beyond this world and acknowledge Jesus as our personal Lord and Savior. He alone can change our eternity. He alone can fulfill the promises. The things of this world are fleeting. Don’t cling to what will fade!

Do you love this world?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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What are you clothed in?

August 25, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.
(Colossians 3:12 (NIV))

Is it just me, or do these sound very similar to something else that we are told about?

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.
(Galatians 5:22-23 (NIV))

We are to clothe, or cover, ourselves with these traits. We, as the Body of Christ, are to strive to live our lives in such a way that we shine the light of Jesus in our circle of influence. When the world shows us sexual immorality, idolatry, hatred, jealousy, rage, selfish ambition, envy and drunkenness, we are to show them the light and love of Jesus.

I want you to think of this in relationship to putting on the full armor of God. Nobody puts on armor without clothing themselves with the proper attire beforehand. We must prepare ourselves with the correct attire before put on the armor and before we are truly prepared to go into battle for the Lord. We do battle against the enemy because we love the light. We do battle against the enemy because we long to see his captives set free. We are former prisoners and must clothe ourselves with compassion for the lost, kindness to the sinner, humility to the enemy, gentleness and patience with the captives as we share the good news of salvation. Without these as a proper foundation, are we truly able to put on the full armor of God?

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
(Ephesians 6:10-17 (NIV))

There are certain seasons of the year where it is recommended to dress in layers. We are in a season where we must spiritually dress in layers, starting with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Once we are clothed in these, we will be better prepared to add armor!

What are you clothed in?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Do you freely speak of God’s faithfulness?

August 24, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

I do not hide your righteousness in my heart;
      I speak of your faithfulness and salvation.
   I do not conceal your love and your truth
      from the great assembly.
(Psalms 40:10 (NIV))

David was not ashamed of God. He proclaimed His greatness whenever and wherever he was. David slipped and sinned, but that did not stop him from praising God. David praised God for the salvation that was yet to come.

How can we, who live on the other side of that salvation gift, praise God any less? David had a great faith. It is hard enough to believe in Jesus when there is historical evidence that He lived and that what is written is true. David believed in God and salvation without this evidence. It takes a greater faith to believe when all you have are promises, even if those promises are from God. It is human nature, probably due to our fall from grace, to be skeptical and unbelieving, yet David believed. He had enough faith to be called a man after God’s own heart.

Can we be called that when we have received not only the promise but the actual gift of salvation? Are you willing to share the promise? Do you freely speak of God’s faithfulness?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Does your life support your claims?

August 21, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

Whoever claims to live in him must live as Jesus did.
(1 John 2:6 (NIV))

Did you just get blind sided by this passage?

Think about that question in relationship to how Jesus reacted to situations and how you react to similar situations. Perhaps that saying from a few years ago holds more merit than we gave it credit for.

WWJD?

What would Jesus do?

His reactions ran the gamut, but one thing was consistent. Jesus always responded based on God’s Word and not on human emotions. We have been given instructions on how we are to live in order to follow His example.

You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love. For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” If you bite and devour each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other.

So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.

The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.
(Galatians 5:13-26 (NIV))

In essence, if we claim to be followers of Jesus, then we must strive to follow His life. The very fact that Jesus came to walk among us in order to save us shows the great love that the Lord has for us. Jesus did not do anything contrary to what the Spirit instructed, even to the point of dying on the cross. We know beyond doubt that Jesus walked this world as a perfect example of what the fruit of the Spirit is to look like. If we claim to follow Jesus and our lives do not reflect these traits, then we must repent and refocus our lives so that they do.

Does your life support your claims?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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